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A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Oh, and does anyone else find it laughable that various Imams were outraged by the blasphemy of these cartoons, but they have no trouble whatsoever with these? Laughable, yes, but sadly, terribly unsurprising.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Staying the Course
So imagine my joy at reading this article. Honestly, I do not understand the point of these referendums. They are not only a waste of time, energy and money, but also potentially demoralizing for our troops. On top of that, the actual question asked often doesn't even make sense. The nutter group in Racine is requesting the following language:
"We call for the immediate cessation of military action in Iraq and the expedient withdrawal of all U.S. fighting forces, including private contractors, beginning with the National Guard and Reserves."Immediate cessation of military action? So, even if the troops are there they shouldn't, oh what's the word... do anything? Just sit in their quarters and watch the show their sudden absence creates? Maybe fix a power grid, but under no circumstances shoot at anyone or try to rid the city of terrorists?
Expedient withdrawal. Well, if the troops aren't going to actually do anything, I suppose it would be expedient to withdraw immediately, but even if the troops--and private contractors-- are just there to train the Iraq police and military and continue to rebuild the infrastructure an expedient withdrawal may not occur for many months or even years. Expedient means appropriate to a purpose, not as quickly as possible.
What a bunch of maroons. Want some reasoning on why leaving now would be a horrible idea and why staying the course is a really good plan? Well, then trot yourself on over to Orson Scott Card's semi-regular column and have a nice read. He sums it up really well.
So Sorry, Old Bean
A clumsy visitor to a Cambridge museum has destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases after tripping up on his shoelace, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday.Which, naturally, takes me back to one of the Pink Panther movies in which Peter Sellers, for reasons I forget, has a metal glove on his hand with which he pulverizes a vase on a pedastal. The shocked owner (curator?) gasps, "That was a priceless Ming Vase!" to which Sellers replies, in his over-the-top French accent, "Not any more."
The three Qing vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had stood on a windowsill at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, southeast England, for at least 40 years.
And if you're having a bad day at work, remember that it could be worse. You could be one of the museum workers charged with reassembling the vases:
"They are in very, very small pieces but we are determined to put them back together," said the museum's assistant director Margaret Greeves.
Heh. And you thought those 3-D foam puzzles were challenging.
And as a side note, as much as I like Steve Martin and Kevin Kline, why did they sign on for this? The trailers look dreadfully unfunny-- and the last attempt to resurrect this series didn't exactly blow the doors off the box office, bringing in a "whopping" $2.5 million.
I mean, when one of your big selling points is that a film is from the director of Cheaper By the Dozen (Shawn Levy-- anyone? No?) you might want to rethink the whole project.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Friday's List: Happy Birthday, Milwaukee!
25) Go ice skating. Any time of the year. And maybe see some Olympic caliber speed skaters while you're doing it.
24) Tour Milwaukee's historic churches. Founded by God-fearing Germans, Italians, Poles and other ethnic groups, Milwaukee's skyline is marked by many, many church steeples.
23) Hang out on campus. Relive your college days, read the school newspapers, ogle some young college students, or play hacky sack. Nostalgia, bay-bee. Milwaukee has several universities and colleges to choose from.
22) Gamble a little. A small taste of Vegas in downtown (well, almost) Milwaukee. Please note-- I suggest you gamble a little. Slots, craps, blackjack, poker, bingo-- it's all here.
21) Shop. Okay, not my favorite thing in the world, but some folks like it, so it's at least worth mentioning. And if you go to quirky places like the 3rd Ward or the East side, it can be kind of fun. Of course, if you prefer malls, there are a number of those as well.
20) Go to a festival. Summerfest (see below) is the Big Gig, but there are festivals in Milwaukee all throughout the year.
19) Hike and Bike. There are a number of great bike trails within, or close to, Milwaukee, and the County Park System maintains excellent hiking trails at all of their parks.
18) Pub Crawl-- Walker's Point. All types of bars oddly situated in one of Milwaukee's more industrialized areas. Neighborhood pubs, college hangouts, dance clubs and gay bars. There's a little bit of everything in Walker's Point-- plus the Allen-Bradley clock towering over everything.
17) Visit State Fair Park. Ideally, during the Wisconsin State Fair (in which case-- do NOT miss out on the Cream Puffs), but even in the off-season it's worth a visit.
16) Golf! The Milwaukee County Park System golf courses are excellent, ranging from pitch and putts to PGA Tour caliber. Add to that the fact that there are Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer designed courses less than an hour from Milwaukee, and you have a golfers paradise-- at least from April to October.
15) Take a walking tour of the city. Tons of history and remarkable architecture in Milwaukee, so pick the tour you like and spend a day roaming the town.
14) Visit the Milwaukee Public Library. Okay, I might be a little biased here, but the central branch is in a magnificent building, and it home to numerous special exhibits and collections.
13) Take in a game at the Bradley Center. The Bucks are playing well, Marquette is the surprise team of the Big East, and the Milwaukee Admirals are playoff contenders in the AHL.
12) Get a little culture! For the size of the city, Milwaukee has a remarkable amount of cultural entertainment, including many theaters, an orchestra, an opera and a ballet.
11) Visit the Mitchell Park domes. Particularly in winter, when the glorious blooms and tropical interior atmosphere will help get rid of the January blahs. The model train display is also quite good.
10) Pub Crawl--Water Street. The downtown social/drinking/party people place to be. All different types of places to go, from hole-in-the-wall dives to upscale venues. If you have time to wander a bit from Water, do pop into the Safehouse, which is about as campy and cheesy as a bar is capable of getting.
9) Go to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some very nice collections for a city our size, and the museum has wings!
8) Go to Miller Park. Ideally to see a Brewers game, but even if you can't do that, do go see the stadium-- it's worth the trip.
7) Eat! There are a boatload of great restaurants in Milwaukee-- virtually any ethnic food you could want, prices ranging from cheap to quite pricey, and, of course, plenty of beer, cheese and sausage.
6) Pub Crawl-- North and/or Brady Streets on the East side of Milwaukee. There are a lot of bars in Milwaukee, as you might have gathered from my inclusion of three distinct pub crawls in this list. While on this one, make sure to stop into the Landmark-- which is underneath the vintage Oriental Theatre-- and play a few games of bumper pool. Or bowl. Or play darts with actual metal tips. Or all of the above.
5) See the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo. An excellent zoo, especially for the size of the metropolitan area supporting it. They have upgraded the facilities for the animals and visitors significantly over the last decade.
4) Take a brewery tour. It is Milwaukee, after all. Plus, there are three different ones to choose from.
3) Visit the Milwaukee Public Museum. Yes, it has been plagued by horrendous mismanagement of late, but it is still a remarkable place-- if visiting with kiddies, this one probably vaults to #1. The Vatican display coming in February, 2006 promises to be phenomenal.
2) Go to the lakefront. Milwaukee has a wonderful, largely undeveloped lakefront where you can bike, rollerblade, play volleyball, swim (assuming the water is clean enough-- no guarentees, I'm afraid) or just watch people.
1) Go to Summerfest. It is the largest music festival in the world and it happens right on the lakefront. There is beer, tons of food, all different kinds of music, and it's still pretty cheap. What more could you ask for?
Happy Birthday Milwaukee!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The Ugliest Web Site Ever
CWD: More Dangerous Than We Thought?
It hasn't happened yet, so maybe the whole thing is overblown, but the answer-- in addition to killing all infected deer and quarantining deer who are near infected deer-- was for people not to eat the bits that might be infected. Not a huge sacrifice, as most hunters eat the venison of deers, but not many eat the brains. I'm not ever sure why you'd want to-- though venison is a reasonably tasty meat.
Comes now word that the prions that are feared to cause CWD aren't found just in the brain and nervous system. It seems they can be found in regular old muscle tissue-- which is the stuff that we do usually eat. Sigh. Had some venison jerky over the Christmas break-- so wish me luck, and if I start writing weird things-- I mean really weird things, not just my usual drivel--contact the Wisconsin DNR at once.
I don't seriously think that there is any risk to eating venison-- but it is something worth keeping tabs on, just in case.
Labels: Sciency Stuff
Darwin Award Nominee
Now, should I take pride that she's local to my area, feel shame that someone so stupid is from my local area, or just be glad that somebody this stupid is no longer around in my local area where she might have caused me or mine injury?
Will Hamas Become Civilized?
The old, Be careful what you wish for-- you might get it cliche. Of course, as President Bush noted, if your "party" platform is the elimination of Israel as country, then you are not a partner in peace. Pretty much, you're just a bunch of barbarian thugs.
We'll see. Fingers crossed, but hopes not very high.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A Look Into the Deranged Left
Anyway, enough of me. Check out Cindy Sheehan's interview with Irish far-left writer Ronan Sheehan, which appeared recently in the far-left "journal" CounterPunch. I found Cindy's second to last statement particularly revealing:
And about Bill Clinton . . . . You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a blow job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis that George Bush. I don't understand why to rise to the level of being president of my country one has to be a monster. I used to say that George Bush was defiling the Oval Office, but it's been held by a long line of monsters. We don't have to support our administrations to love our country. True patriots of my country dissent when our country's doing something so wrong.Just so we're clear here-- Cindy Sheehan, one of the left's most outspoken anti-war protesters, is of the opinion that most, if not all, of our presidents have been monsters. And my family wonders why I've wandered off the liberal reservation.
I'm a Mazda RX-8
I'm sporty, yet practical, and I have a style of my own. I like to have fun, and I like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, I'm willing to do your part.
Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.
Interesting that they only do sportscars... a goodly number of folks I know would probably be trucks, if that were an option.
I Wish I Could Be Happy About This
Thing is, I generally think unions have worn out their usefulness, and I particularly dislike professionals who feel they need to unionize. Are their issues between the faculty/academic staff and the UW Administration? Absolutely. But I don't really believe collective bargaining is the answer-- we're professionals, so let's find a less adversarial way to deal with those differences. As with world affairs, sometimes war is necessary, but as with world affairs, it is a last resort, and anything that makes a situation more adversarial should only be undertaken under extreme circumstances.
And what the heck is Dale Schultz doing proposing the legislation? He's a Republican-- isn't he supposed to hate labor? All very strange. All very much not to my liking.
OTIT: The Sales Pitch
So why, given his tremendous career, and a wide variety of quotes to choose from, did the PR release from the publisher highlight this one:
To suggest that war can prevent war is a base play on words and a despicable form of warmongering.Which, in my opinion, is not only crap, it is dangerous crap. Two possibilities-- the publisher believes that Bunche's anti-war rhetoric is the most significant part of his legacy, or the publisher believes that faculty will find Bunche's anti-war rhetoric to be the most compelling part of his legacy. In either case, it's hard to make a case that there isn't a bias in the ivory towers of our land.
Labels: Oh That Ivory Tower
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Washington got one, plus a whole city (state, too, for that matter) named for him. Fair enough, he was the pivotal figure of the American Revolution. There very likely wouldn't be a United States of America without George. Jefferson got one, and that's okay too-- Jefferson was the wordsmith that helped shape what America would become with the Declaration of Independence, and his presidency included the doubling of the country. Hamilton gets the $10 bill, which is appropriate since we likely would've strangled under the heavy debt created by the War of the Revolution if not for his plan to establish a national bank/currency. Franklin gets the $100 bill, which is probably not enough given how prominent a figure he was during Revolutionary times, but now, 200+ years later, you do hear how "it's all about the Benjamins."
Besides Washington and Jefferson, seven other presidents have statues and/or monuments of some sort in Washington, D.C. Sure, Lincoln is easy, and maybe you'd get FDR as well, but the other five? Take your best guess then check the comments section and see how you did.
John Adams, however, who was on a par with Jefferson and Franklin and only a small notch below Washington in terms of his claims to being a Founding Father, has gotten pretty much bupkis. No formal recognition in D.C., no currency with his profile on it, no universities (at least James Madison, another major figure in the founding of the U.S., albeit one that joined a bit after the Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams cadre, got a university). A few counties here or there.
Thankfully, there is an ongoing effort to get a monument to the entire Adam's family, John, Abilgail and John Quincy, erected in D.C. In 2001, President Bush signed the okey dokey to acquire land on or near the Mall in D.C., and since that time various groups having been raising money to make the monument a reality. Additionally, the old Suffolk County Courthouse was lavishly refurbished in 2002 and renamed the John Adams Courthouse.
So, things are turning around for the fiery old man from Quincy who, in many ways, embodied the best of what America has always stood for-- ambition, honor, independence, devotion, frugality, and staunch defense of the rule of law and the rights of individuals.
Oh, and one of the crowning illustrations of how life is often much unlikely than fiction, I still find it truly amazing that BOTH Adams and Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, 50 years to the DAY from the founding of the country. If a scriptwriter wrote something like that into a movie or TV series, people would role their eyes and think, "Right, THAT would happen. Give me a break."
In this case, however, no break is necessary-- it really did happen.
Every Now and Then
Monday, January 23, 2006
I Would've Predicted That
The only disappointing thing about being right was that neither game was much fun to watch. The Steelers took the air out of the Denver crowd with authority, and their defense had Jake the Snake Plummer completely discombobulated. Meanwhile, the crowd in Seattle was rocking throughout, and Jake not the Snake Delhomme was also completely discombobulated. Not a good day to be a Jake.
I think the Super Bowl will be good, though. Big Ben versus Matt the Mouth, Cowher vs. Holmgren, Alexander vs. Bettis/Parker. Good stuff, good stuff. The two best teams in the NFL? Maybe not, but close, and the two best teams down the stretch, which is when you need your team to excel.
And then the long cold days begin until the NCAA Championships.
Unreal. Michael Jordan's high game is 69. Kobe surpassed that by nearly 20%. I am not a big Kobe Bryant fan-- in fact, I don't really like him much at all-- but you simply have to say "Wow, what an amazing, incredible, phenomenal performance."
Saturday, January 21, 2006
An Interesting Proposal
I am certainly a big fan of eliminating the "suck up" factor in modern politics (in both directions-- politicians sucking up to money, and money sucking up to politicians). I am also a big fan of term limits for Congress, and maybe even for the Supreme Court-- people like Ted Kennedy and Ted Stevens (maybe it's something with the name Ted?) should've served 12 years and then been sent politely back to their domiciles. How likely is it that anything but the status quo will occur when you have senators and representatives serving for 30+ years? Between them, the Teddies have been senators for 80 years. How much pork do you think those two gentlemen have managed to bring home to Alaska and Massachusetts in that time? Quite a lot, I should imagine-- but I'd also put big money that they've gotten far more pork in the past 20 years than they did in their first 20 years of service.
Tom Cruise: On a Roll Lately
Check his pants for butter. In addition to being a complete control freak nutbar in regards to his relationship with Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise has been pulling down numerous awards of late:
- Most Irritating Actor
- "Coldest" star
- Tackiest star of the year- ahead of Paris Hilton! Nice work, Tom.
- Most Thin Skinned. Okay, not an official award, but when you to enough umbrage at a South Park episode that rips on you to threaten legal action, you really are incredibly lame and ridiculously oversensitive. South Park rips on everybody and everything. Get over yourself already, Tom.
Cruise used to be likeable-- he had sort of an every guy vibe going on, and he didn't mind a little self-depreciating humor from time to time. What in tarnation happened to the guy that he is now just a nutbag prick?
Here's what my nephew, SGT Nick Hitt had to say in the comments area for my post that included pictures from, and of, him:
Hey. My name is SGT Nicholas Hitt and this is my uncle's Blogspot. I thank you all that support the troops over here. I find it rough some times, but it always makes me more motavated to hear that people back home are backing us. It's the American people that make or break us.Keep that in mind folks-- it makes a big difference to our brave men and women in the armed services when we do-- or don't-- support them and what they are trying to accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The other new arrival is Joshua, aka Raolin, one of the small cadre of talented writers John H. and I worked with several years ago-- good to hear from you Josh!:
I hope you both stop in from time to time and offer us your insights. Nick, if there's anything in particular you want me to post-- personal observations, pics, thoughts on Iraq and its people, whatever-- send it along in an email and/or comment and I'll be happy to share it with all two of my readers!
Not the only one; I managed to stumble across this little nook myself. Howdy, folks.
Actually, for reasons unknown, my readership is up, which is cool. Thanks to everyone who stops in, and a special thanks to those who leave comments-- feedback is always a welcome thing for a writer, even when it isn't always positive.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Tired Friday Musings
- Antonio Davis deserved a suspension, though I would've gone with three games, not five, and his wife may be certifiable.
- Wisconsin has it's own little Abramoff scam going, only very few people seem to care. At present the Wisconsin state legislature is attempting to ram a 10% ethanol mandate down our throats. If passed, all gas in Wisconsin would have to be cut with 10% ethanol-- a measure that benefits nobody but the corn growers and the ethanol producers. Ethanol is bad for the environment, it's bad for the consumer, and it's bad public policy. On top of that, one of the people who stands to make millions from the mandate is the brother of state senator Luther Olson (R-Ripon). Luther is a strong advocate for ethanol production. No conflict of interest there.
- Orson Scott Card has an interesting take on Intelligent Design in his semi-regular web column. The conclusion is probably not what you'd expect from reading the beginning, and while I think his distaste for the "Darwinists" is overblown, I think his basic read on the subject is probably close to dead-on-balls accurate (tm).
- Who's scarier, Ray Nagin, who is the chief executive for a (formerly) major U.S. city, or Pat Robertson, who is the "spiritual guide" for millions of our fellow Americans? I think you still have to give the nod to Pat, but I must say that Ray is making a sustained and substantial challenge to the throne.
- I have different interpretations of the OBL "truce" offer, some saying it's a sign of weakness and conciliation on OBL's part, while others say that it is a sort of token requirement of his faith. Something along the lines of offering the infidels mercy before you obliterate them, so you can say, "Hey, look, I tried to get them to be reasonable, but watcha gonna do?" Given past history and that the source for the second intrepetation was a former-CIA guy who worked almost exclusively on Middle Eastern issues, I gotta go with the "pro-forma" explanation. 'Course, it could be a bit of both, I suppose.
I guess that's it for now. Have a good weekend everyone.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
A Sobering Thought
And the fact that Russia, itself slipping rapidly back into totalitarianism, is a strong supporter of Iran cannot be a good thing.
Shuffle Play Weirdness
Don't Leave Me Now ends with the sound of TVs being smashed in, but the last of the four TVs is at the beginning of the next track rather than at the end of Don't Leave Me Now. Pigs starts with an echoing pig oink. So, instead of Boof (sound of TV being smashed), Boof, Boof, pause, Boof, I got Boof, Boof, Boof, pause, Oink...oink... oink. Probably none of you care, but it was a really strange effect.
Any of you have any riveting shuffle play oddities to share with the class?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Very well done. I remember the book only vaguely, since the last time I read it was probably back in 3rd or 4th grade, so my expectations of its accuracy relative to the book were very minimal to non-existent. The cast was great-- particularly Edmund (Skandar Pevensie), the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy)-- and the CGI imagery was excellent without intruding into the story. The beauty of converting the Narnia stories to film, as contrasted with the Lord of the Rings, is that each volume is short (less than 200 pages) by today's standards. I was a little concerned that the battle scenes would be too intense for my 5-year-old son, but they did a good job of making the battles effective and intense without being gory or overy violent. I would strongly recommend the film.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
All that an action/adventure movie should be. A solid, smartly written script, great believeable action, and an excellent cast. Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins are superb, Catherine Zeta Jones quite good (and very lovely) and Stuart Wilson also quite good as the evil, yet cultured, bad guy, Don Rafael. The combination of two incredibly charismatic actors in Hopkins and Banderas could have been a recipe for trouble, but the two play off each other nicely, and there is sufficient self-depreciating humor in the script to keep things fun. All recent action/adventure films that rely on massive chases and/or huge explosions should take note of this movie-- which has explosions and sword fights galore, but does not rely on them. Rather, the action complements the character interaction and, here's a bizarre concept, the plot. Highly recommended.
A mess with your mind movie that keeps tweaking Tom Cruise's reality throughout the film until the conclusion where all is explained. Cruise is good, Penelope Cruz is very good, and Jason Lee is terrific as Cruise's best, pretty much only, friend. It took me nearly the whole film to figure out that he was Earl from My Name is Earl. Kurt Russel was a little off, to me, as the psychaitrist/father figure personage, and Cameron Diaz was just spooky as Cruise's girlfriend. I guess Diaz is supposed to be spooky, so maybe it was good acting, but I have to say that it seemed more like art reflecting life. Diaz is just... creepy these days. Anyway, the cinematography is appealing--, but the whole "what the hey is actually going on here" hook got old about half-way through the film. See it if you have some time to kill, but don't spend money renting it, or let it keep you from anything interesting or important.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Bates took an underperforming, and yes under-talented, bunch of guys and turned them into a top-ten defense. Which is exactly the same thing he did in Miami. The other thing he did in Miami is fill-in as interim coach and finish with a 3-4 record. Unimpressive? Well, the guy he replaced (Dave Wannstedt) managed to field a 1-8 record with the same team. Three of the four losses were on the road, and one of the wins was against New England-- a team that lost only one other game that year.
Bates got the most out of what he had, could gameplan with the best of them (anybody that can gameplan with Bill Belichick and come out even or ahead is a good gameplanner), and already knew our system. Plus, he liked it here.
Perhaps Mike whatever his name is will turn out to be an okay coach, maybe even a good coach-- but I can state with reasonable certainty that we already had a good coach, maybe even a great coach, already in Green Bay!
Oh Happy Day!
But I watched it last night at 10 to listen to all the boo-hooing from the poor Chicago fans. Sniff, sniff. I know it is ungracious of me to revel in the suffering of others... but MAN was that fun. The anchors couldn't saying things like, "Well, they had a great season, regardless," and "What a great ride while it lasted."
One and done, suckers. One and done.
Dreadful, just dreadful
I do not know, Troy, but verily they are. Ye gods did the refs stink up the place this weekend-- on several occassions dramatically altering the games they were overseeing, and in at least two cases nearly costing a team victory. Here's a brief run down:
- The most obvious, and ridiculous, error was the Polamalu interception, which the refs got right on the field only to overturn the correct decision after replay review. Honestly, folks, what is the point of having instant replay if it sometimes causes correct calls to be overturned for incorrect calls? The whole purpose of the replay system is to try and ensure that the correct call is made, and that an incorrect call does not decide the outcome of a game-- especially in the playoffs! Lucky for the NFL that Pittsburgh won the game, because if they had lost after that perposterous error... well, the reaction in Pittsburgh and elsewhere would have been HUGE.
- But there were other errors, nearly as significant. For example, how exactly was there no penalty for either side when the Pittsburgh offensive line clearly moved and the Colts defensive line clearly crossed the line of scrimmage and contacted various Steelers? Either the refs saw the Steelers move and it's a penalty on Pittsburgh, or they didn't see the Steelers move, and it's offsides on Indy for crossing the line and making contact with the Steelers. Or, if neither side truly did anything wrong-- then why is the game being stopped? Let Pittsburgh hike the ball, or call a delay of game penalty, but there simply is no way that you can just ignore the whole thing and say "Do over." There was a penalty-- call it as you saw it, but don't just ignore it.
- And how about the non-pass interference call earlier in the game? Good grief, the defender simply ran over the receiver! Which is another pet peeve of mine-- why oh why is pass intereference not reviewable? And don't give me that "It's a judgement call" crap-- 95% of refereeing is judgement calls-- we allow judgements about whether someone was down or not to be reviewed, we allow judgements about whether the QBs arm was moving forward or not to be reviewed-- so why not interference? It's quite likely THE biggest penalty in the game in terms of changing an outcome-- the yardage is usually huge, since the ball is marked at the spot of the foul, and the offense gets an automatic first down. It is also relatively easy to review, since it almost always happens downfield, away from the scrum at the line of scrimmage.
- Oh, and that was a safety-- just like the Packers game. Manning may have been hit initially in the field of play, but if he had bounced off that hit and then thrown a completion, would the refs have called him down at the half-yard line. No chance, nada, zip, zero, zilch. Manning's butt landed in the endzone-- when Manning's butt landed in the endzone, the ball was also in the endzone. That's a safety.
- Okay, the Steelers/Colts game was the worst, but except for the Seahawks game, they were all pretty bad. Let's go to Denver/NE and... hey, a very dubious pass interference call that basically handed the Broncos a touchdown. But we shouldn't review pass interference calls-- just plays that 98.4562% of NFL fans, players and referees would call a clean interception and subsequent fumble.
- Oh, and can we stop patting Champ Bailey on the head and saying, "Great play, man!"? I mean, it was a great play right up to the point where Bailey started jogging at the 5 yard line, already thinking about his celebration dance. THEN it became a REALLY stupid play by an egotistical nitwit that nearly cost his team a touchdown and a LOT of momentum. You want a great play by a great player? How about rookie Ben Watson charging downfield full bore and pile driving Bailey out at the 1 and, possibly, causing him to fumble through the endzone (which would've made it NE ball on their 20)? THAT was a great, never give up, play. But I digress-- the refs ruled Bailey's fumble out at the half-yard line, and maybe there wasn't "conclusive" evidence to overrule that placement, but I have to say, it looked to me like the ball went over the pylon.
- And let's not forget the Bears/Panthers game, where Julius Peppers was jobbed out of a touchdown after yet another questionable review. Remember-- the ruling on the field stands unless the video evidence is indisputable that the wrong call was made. If there is doubt, the ruling on the field stands. The refs on the field ruled that Gage fumbled and Peppers return was a TD for Carolina. Upon review, the refs decided Gage's knee was down when he was hit, and thus it was a complete pass and no fumble. I'll grant you that I can see where the refs would tend to believe that his knee was down, but it was not conclusive because from the angles available you can't really tell when Carolina's Chris Gamble touches Gage, and thus you don't know exactly when, or if, the play was dead. So, the ruling on the field should stand. Except it didn't.
There were other, less impactful, mistakes, but those six (I discount the Bailey fumble call, as the reviews probably weren't conclusive, and thus the ruling on the field must take precedence-- even though I think it was wrong, and I am sick to my ears of hearing about how great Bailey's play was) are certainly sufficient to judge the quality of refing this weekend as dreadful. The only redeeming fact is that despite the referee blunders, two of the three teams that played better and deserved to win did-- with the exception of New England, who can make a pretty strong case that they would've won their game if not for the guys in the zebra uniforms.
At any rate, I am now a huge Carolina and Pittsburgh fan, as I greatly admire teams that can overcome great adversity and unfair treatment to persevere and win regardless.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Happy Birthday, Dr. King
Friday, January 13, 2006
Dark Days Are Coming
Stats of the Week No. 4: Carson Palmer, who played two snaps, had more passing yards than Mark Brunell, who played an entire game. Noted by Tim Lowes.And since I had such a scintalating performance last week, going an outstanding 2 for 2 on Saturday and doing slightly worse on Sunday, here are my thoughts on this weekend's games:
- Indy over Pittsburgh
- Chicago over Carolina
- Seattle over Washington
- Denver over New England
I know, I know, pretty bold stuff there. Going way out on a limb picking all four home teams, but hey, you can't be afraid to pick the favorite from time to time. I mean, it's easy to pick the underdog, but go with the home favorite-- now that's cutting edge, bay-bee!
Thursday, January 12, 2006
In Other News
Okay, okay, stay calm. Maybe that last stat is deceiving... yeah, that's it. The 9'ers couldn't have been that dreadful, right? All right, then. Item by item:
- # of offensive plays run: Last
- Yards per game: Last
- Yards per play: Last
- 1st downs per game: 32! (Oh wait, that's still last)
- 3rd down conversion percentage: Last
- Penalties: 22nd! (Wow, that's almost out of the bottom third)
- Time of Possession: 31st (Take THAT J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets)
- TFs: Tied for 5th! (Anybody know what a TF is? Seriously, I have no idea what this stat is for)
- L: Tied for 8th! (Of course, that may be bad. Most of the teams with more L's were pretty dreadful. So, anybody know if L's are good or bad?)
- Passing yards: Last
- Passing TDs: Last (With 8! Don't you just accidentally throw more than 8 TDs in a season?)
- Sacks: 5th! (Oh wait, they give up the 5th most sacks. So that's bad.)
- Rushing yards: 17th! (Hey, that's mediocre!)
- Scoring: 30th (Thank you New Orleans and Cleveland)
Yup, that's pretty impressive. I can definitely see why Ted Thompson wanted this guy! I mean, we undoubtedly needed to improve our number of TFs and Ls, and McCarthy is clearly the guy to do it.
Hold tight-- Mike and Ted's Bogus Journey is about to start!
Racine answers the challenge
And what is RUSD school board's answer to this not-exactly-new crisis? Appoint a committee to decide when to hold a referendum and how much to ask the tax payers for THIS time. Of course, RUSD's hands are tied to a large degree by the fact that 85% of their budget is personnel related-- much of it health care and pension benefits for the teachers. Thanks WEAC.
WEAC is the teacher's union here in Wisconsin. The union totally unwilling to budge on having members pay anything, ANYTHING, towards their Rolls Royce of a health care plan. The union spent many millions of dollars getting Jim Doyle elected (perhaps those union dues could've gone toward... oh I don't know... education?), and millions more opposing school choice-- a program parents overwhelmingly support. But I digress. Because of WEAC's intransigence, school district's are hamstrung as more and more of their budgets has to go to pay huge health care benefit costs, leaving less and less money for operations and special activities.
But hey-- Racine has provided the model for the state! Simply form a committee to determine the best way to frame a referendum, because I'm sure the taxpayers won't mind ponying up again. I mean, we'd probably just waste that money on improving our homes or taking a family vacation or paying off our own doctors' bills.
You know-- silly stuff.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Mequon-Thiensville Makes a Run at the Title
- Lost an April 2005 referendum to increase taxes-- one year after assuring us that the 2004 tax increase they got okayed through the referendum process would suffice for several years-- and then put a slightly smaller tax increase on a JULY 2005 referendum.
- Disingenuously claimed that the July proposal wasn't a tax increase since it only maintained the tax increase approved in 2004. So the fact that the owner of a $150,000 home would pay $70 more if the referendum passed than he would if it failed wasn't a tax increase. Follow that?
- To get that July referendum passed, the district threatened to end all sports, thus getting lots of high school student athletes to pressure their parents and their parents' friends to vote YES.
- After getting the July referendum passed, the district STILL reduced the funding for sports, and now requires students and their parents to contribute to the funding of said sports.
- Paid a consultant a lot of money to ask all the Racine teachers what their wish list would be if they could have anything they want in their classroom. The fact that the consultant had strong ties to the administration of the Racine Unified School District was entirely coincidental.
I absolutely HATE referendums that are scheduled at times other than normal voting days. They disenfranchise a lot of people and they cost the taxpayers extra money. Plus, they give public agencies, like school districts, the ability to just ignore the results of a previous referendum-- from as little as three months previous-- and to try, try again. And again. And again. Until they get the result they want.
Oddly enough, taxpayers don't get that option. If the tax increase referendum passes, we do not have the option of scheduling a new referendum, or of threatening to close the school district offices if they don't figure out a way to live within their means. We just get to pay. And pay. And pay some more.
That Kind of Anger Will Eat You Up Inside
Some folks really do have to chill out, though, or the anger will eat them up inside. It is not healthy to be fuming and bitter and, well, angry all the time-- whether you suppress it or vent it. Cynicism appears to be a signficant contributing factor as well.
Which makes me worry about this guy. He seems almost compulsively incapable of making a point without denigrating those who disagree with him, and his "humor" consists entirely of snark, ridicule and sniping from the sidelines. Maybe it's all an act, a premise established to draw in those who feel similarly but don't have the time, energy or creativity to vent their spleen so emphatically. Maybe it is merely venting and helps him to be more tranquil, objective and able to enjoy the rest of his life.
Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it is a bit of an object lesson to all of us-- that kind of anger will eat you up inside.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Eugene Kane: Non-Partisan
It's not a "Republican scandal, stupid," Eugene, it's business as usual in our nation's capitol, and if it benefited Republicans more than Democrats it's because Republicans are currently the majority. It's a 'national disgrace, stupid' would be a more apt label, and if you want to highlight that Abramoff was tighter with the Republicans than the Democrats feel free-- but to claim it as just a Republican scandal would seem... what's the word... oh yes
Another MSM Convert?
Fair enough-- counteracting rabid partisanship has always been one of my stated goals with my blog as well. Except, though I do come from a conservative viewpoint-- and hopefully acknowledge that-- I try to counteract rabid partisanship from both sides. Eugene, not so much-- at least so far. In his introductory newspaper column decrying the partisanship of so many blogs, Kane sites an active blogging community here in the Milwaukee area, and then moans that some of it is a "byproduct of right-wing talk radio, which makes reading those blogs akin to listening to four hours of our local blowhards rail against liberals...."
No mention of any rabid left-wing blogs in Milwaukee. You know, like this one. Or this one. And, of course, this one. Not that there's anything wrong with those sites-- blogging, as Kane may well discover to his chagrin, tends to pull one towards the ideological extremes-- but it is revealing that Kane only mentions rabid right-wing blogs. And not by name or link, either, just 'trust me, there's lots of 'em.'
Kane then singles out this small blog for having called him names in one small post a year and a half ago. It was "the most surprising blog" he had seen. Er... how many did you actually look at, Eugene-- two? I mean, it's a nice "this is my life" blog-- more of an online journal or diary, that, if the comments are any indication, is read even less often than mine. The owner, Cat, posts about once a week, and the vast majority of the posts are about her efforts to lose weight, her struggles to make her company go, or her love of the Wisconsin Badgers. Late summer and fall of 2004 she increased the quantity of her political posts to several-- maybe because of that election thing? One would've thought that this or this would be more surprising.
But whatever. In an unintended exercise in delicious irony, Kane follows up this paragraph:
It's my humble opinion that the best blogs - like mine at www.jsonline.com/links/raisingkane - don't rant and rave as much as refer readers to interesting stories and commentary from other sources.with this paragraph:
Blogging is best when it's a clearinghouse for ideas rather than a long-winded exercise in self-congratulatory rhetoric.Um... like proclaiming your brand new blog one of the best after less than four months of existence? Though in fairness, I guess that exercise in self-congratulatory rhetoric wasn't long-winded.
Kane concludes his column explaining his new blogging presence as, at least in part, a response to a former colleague at the Jourtinel "changing her spots." He never says it, and I don't really know why not, but he means Jessica McBride who used to report for the Jourtinel and has since become a vocal conservative blogger/columnist in Milwaukee, as well a journalist instructor at UW-Milwaukee. Some of the background to that story here and here. Kane's version of the story here.
Anyway-- so far Kane's actual blog has been closer to his ideal of avoiding rabid partisanship (a couple of shots at Bill O'Reilly and Republicans/Abramanoff excepted) than his introductory column in the paper. I'll pop in from time to see how he's doing at the whole blogging thing.
Monday, January 09, 2006
"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy"
And it occured to me that I don't recall hearing anything about that infamous day this year. Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero. Meanwhile, the rock radio station I listen to had an entire week's worth of tributes to John Lennon, who was shot on December 8, 1980. Nothing wrong with that-- Lennon is an icon, one of the most talented artists of the 20th century, and it IS a rock station.
But nothing on the bombing of Pearl Harbor? 3435 U.S. Servicemen killed in less than two hours, a day proclaimed to "live in infamy" and if there was coverage of the 64th anniversary (I have to believe there was something on the news or radio or newspaper), I don't recall seeing it. Maybe I was just oblivous, but if not... well, I really worry about the increasingly shorter attention spans of people in our modern world.
Friday, January 06, 2006
On Executive Power
Going Along to Get Along
One of the two parties needs to remember that most people don't like taxes and don't like government intrusion into their lives. People hate red tape and being told by their government that the government knows better than they do-- occassionally this is necessary, but even when it is, most people aren't big fans of it. I don't really care which party comes to the realization that the way to win, and win big, in the '06 mid-term elections is to go back to Kennedyesque fiscal constraint if you're the Dems, or Reaganesque fiscal restraint if your the Repubs, but I sure hope one of them comes to their senses.
Much has been made by various pundits and much of the left-side of the blogosphere on the Democrats inability to be an effective "opposition" party-- most of it true and merited. I'll throw this out free to Howard Dean and the Democratic Party-- you want to regain control of congress? Move to the right of the Republicans on fiscal policy (at this point, that isn't very hard, since this congress and this president like to spend like drunken sailors on the first day of shore leave) and watch the "Clinton Republicans" and "Reagan Democrats" flock to your candidates.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Random musings on the Rose Bowl:
- Best venue for a football game anywhere, Lambeau Field included (though it's close).
- If Vince Young enters the draft this year (he still says he won't), would you take him or Reggie Bush? Before last night I would've said there was nobody who was even close to Bush-- but now? Now, I think I might take Young. Michael Vick athleticism combined with an accurate (What a concept!) arm and a very fast release. Plus a Michael Jordanesque desire to win and to carry his team if necessary. Young was simply phenomenal last night.
- Having said that, my goodness Reggie Bush is good. Here's his stat line: 13 rushes for 80 yards and a TD, plus 6 receptions for 94 yards and another 1oo yards in kickoff returns. 174 yards from scrimmage with a highlight reel TD thrown in for good measure. The kicker: Keith JACKson noted that Bush was having a fairly quiet night-- and he was right. Bush had 174 yards from scrimmage and a TD on an off night! Having said that, the lateral Bush attempted was just stupid and may have cost SC the three-peat. You can do that against Fairfield Tech in high school, Reg. You absolutely can not do that in the national championship game. You just can't.
- I wish either, or both, of these teams had played Penn State this year-- it would be fun and fascinating to see how the awesome offenses of SC and Texas would do against the awesome defense of the Nittany Lions.
- Which makes you think: although it will never happen, wouldn't a playoff system be fun?
Which brings us to the playoff system that will happen and is fun-- the NFL! It will be strange watching the playoffs without the Packers in them (been a while-- we've been spoiled up here in Wisconsin), but there are some great games coming up. My picks this weekend?
Giants over Carolina
Washington over TB
NE over Jax
Cincinatti over Pittsburgh
The smart money is, of course, to take the money line the other way.
A Small Favor
So, please go to http://www.critters.org/predpoll/novelsf.shtml and vote for Judgement Day by J.J. Ace. If you are feeling ambitious, or just reveling in the glory of stuffing a ballot box, have your friends and relatives do the same. All of us connected with J.J. Ace appreciate your efforts.
Should you care to buy the book, please go here. It is quite good-- so buy early and often. Er, same for the voting.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
On a Lighter Note
Also-- congrats to Joe Pa and Penn State for grinding out an ugly, yet extraordinarily riveting, victory over Florida State last night in triple overtime. State lost their #1 running back and their best defensive player, and still found a way to get it done. Kudos to both defenses, because that was some of the most ferocious hitting, ball-hawking, beat-you-off-the-line play I've ever seen. Most excellent!
One minor quibble-- could announcers please learn the difference between an end around, reverse and double reverse? Last night Mike Tirico insisted on calling a reverse a double reverse not once, not twice, but three times. It's not that hard a concept-- maybe there should be remedial courses for talking heads with no clue?
I Just Can't Imagine
I just can't imagine. I know thousands of prayers and well-wishes, including mine, are flowing to those families right now, but still.... Unreal.
Just to get a feel for how surreal, and tragic, the situation was, you can just compare the Journal Sentinel's print version of the story this morning-- which went to press before it was realized that the story was precisely backward-- with the current online story.
Bells at a church where relatives had been gathering rang out as family members ran out screaming in jubilation.Oof. Now, she'll have to go home and do precisely that. How do you recover your emotional equilibrium after that awful roller coaster ride?
Relatives yelled, "They're alive!"
"Miracles happen in West Virginia, and today we got one," said Charlotte Weaver, wife of Jack Weaver, one of the men who had been trapped in the mine."I got scared a lot of times, but I couldn't give up. We have an 11-year-old son, and I couldn't go home and tell him Daddy wasn't coming home."
Here's the story from JSonline, now that the reality of twelve dead and only one alive has registered:
"No one can say anything about that would make anything any better," he said. "Just a horrible situation."
"There was no apology. There was no nothing. It was immediately out the door," said Nick Helms, son of miner Terry Helms.
Chaos broke out in the church and a fight started. About a dozen state troopers and a SWAT team were positioned along the road near the church because police were concerned about violence. Witnesses said one man had to be wrestled to the ground when he lunged for mining officials.
I just can't imagine.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
A Good Day in Wisconsin Sports
Hey Bulls fans-- remember when you used to win close games? Bwahahahah! Bucks win in Chicago, 93-92. Bucks are 11-0 in games decided by 5 points or less, and with eight road wins have already won more games on the road then they did all of last year. The Bulls... bwahahahahaha!
Hey Ted Thompson-- you made the right call... except why in the name of pork futures did you ever give Mike Sherman a two year, $6 million+ extension in the first place, only to fire him five months later? Doh!